Olive Oil Soap Recipe

I have been asked to share a soap recipe and I thought Olive Oil would be a good choice.   I love its gentleness and the luxury of a rich lather. One of Life’s Simple Pleasures for me is showering with hot water using a rich bar of soap that pampers!

I have olive oil / goat milk soap and olive oil melt and pour soap bars for sale if interested.  I also have goat milk, milk, & honey bars for purchase.  These bars do not lather as much, but they nourish the skin and exfoliate and have a “fresh” natural smell.

This is a basic recipe to try your hand at making soap. Let me know what you think!

Quality Olive Oil Soap Recipe

1.  5 cups water. (I use 3 cups goat milk and 2 cups water)

2. 20 cups of olive oil.

3. Carefully measure Lye, not to exceed 18 ounces.

Heat olive oil to at least 100 degrees and set aside. Dissolve lye into water slowly, adding only a tablespoon or so at a time. Stir constantly until dissolved before adding more.  When lye is completely dissolved let  sit until room temperature. Pour lye mixture to the olive oil a bit at a time and blend with mixer. Mixing times may vary, but olive oil soap generally takes at least 45 minutes to trace.  Trace is the point when the soap mixture has thickened so that when you dribble a stream over surface, it sits on the surface briefly before melting into the mixture.  This is the time to add scent or color.  Mix quickly to incorporate and immediately pour into prepared mold.  Leave for 24-36 hours. Cut soap into bars, trim, and cure for a month on wire or plastic mesh to allow for ventilation.  Cover with a towel to protect soap bars during the cure.  Let cure for 1 month before using.

Uses of Castile Soap

What makes it all the more special is that it is  versatile. In fact, it is known as “seafarer’s soap” for this reason. Olive oil soap can be used as shampoo and works well even without conditioner (and is cheaper too!).

Many people insist that the only soap of this kind should be olive oil castile soap. However, other vegetable oils such as coconut, almond, jojoba and hemp can be used as well.  Olive oil soap  is special and “green” because it is biodegradable, lathers richly, and cleans without stripping the skin.  It is safe and extremely gentle on the skin.

Liquid castile soap can be used for general cleaning around the house, for washing clothes and baby diapers, for heavy duty degreasing, for washing the dishes, among many others!

If you choose to add your favorite fragrance or essential oils,  add at trace. I suggest testing the additives on skin before using in soap recipes because they may irritate sensitive skin.

How to Make Liquid Castile Soap

The main difference between liquid soap and bar soap is the base or alkali used. Your liquid castile soap recipe will include vegetable oil and potassium hydroxide, and the usual fragrance and essential oils.

Here is a sample recipe you can try. You will need about 16 oz. of sunflower oil (or olive oil, plus 7 oz. of coconut oil), 5.5 oz. of potassium hydroxide, 16 oz. of distilled water for the lye, and 40 oz. water for the soap paste.

The same procedure is used when making ordinary liquid soap. Simply follow the step-by-step method and you will have your natural castile soap ready in no time.

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55 Responses to Olive Oil Soap Recipe

  1. Your site is very informative. I wait for the posts about new subjects.

  2. Your site is very informative. I wait for the posts about new subjects.

  3. Hannah Dwyer says:

    I have tried this recipe and so far it’s been fantastic! I got some pure soy oil though, and when I use the ratios provided, it thickens almost immediately and I had to use a spatula to get it into the mold, it was like heavy frosting! Should I use less lye?

    • beiersdo says:

      I would make sure that you measure precisely all the ingredients. Did you add any scent or additives? These items can cause a sudden trace. If the temperatures are a bit low ( lye solution and fats); even just a few degrees below 85, trace occurs quickly too. The quick trace will not ruin the soap in any way except the bars may not look perfectly formed. I find that sometimes adds to the charm too. If you measured accurately, I would not alter the lye amount used. until you are sure of the items I listed above. Thank you for asking the question and I hope I offered some solutions. Let me know if you still have problems and I will pursue this further.

      • Hannah Dwyer says:

        Thanks for your reply! I looked it up on the MMS calculator, to make sure my lye ratio wasn’t off. I added some peppermint oil and ground oat bran for exfoliation. It looks great now, I was just worried I’d messed something up! The recipe you posted is so great, I don’t have a scale so it’s nice to be able to use your recipe :)

  4. Denise says:

    Your post has simple instructions and makes soap making easily and safe. I also feel confident that this mixture sounds mild and intended for people that are sensitive to chemicals. And at least it is real soap. Unlike some industrial manufactures which are advertising their product to be soap and (with a little research) You find out its not soap at all.

    supporter of natural things and products

  5. Toodles says:

    Using a hand held blender will reduce the trace to about 10 minutes… Just a tip.

    • beiersdo says:

      Thank you for the stick blender tip. I am embarrassed to say that I an stick blender challenged. I frequently whirl the goods all about the room…not sure I want to do this with a lye solution. My husband got me an industrial blender a couple of weeks ago that I think will make a world of difference for me.

  6. melissa b says:

    could you please tell me if the temperatures mentioned are in farenheit or celcius?: I am confused and don’t want to make a dangerous and messy mistake :) thank you for your help.

  7. Vicky says:

    Most recipes I have seen for soap call for distilled water, but your recipe does not specify. Does it matter? I am planning to make my first batch of olive oil soap in the next few weeks, and need to know. Also, what color does the olive oil soap turn out? Does it have a little green hue, or is it more gold toned like olive oil? Your recipe looks the easiest of all I’ve seen, so thought i would start with it. Thanks!

    • beiersdo says:

      I have never used distilled water although there are many recipes out there that do. I live on a farm and have well water that is non-treated though. Not sure I would want to use chlorinated water with lye…..just a thought.

      I generally add goat milk to this recipe and so my bars are creamy color. It has a bit of a green tinge if I use pomice grade instead of extra virgin olive oil.

      The recipe is really easy to make. You might want to try a blending stick to mix; just be careful of splash. I am blend-stick challenged so I use a blender to mix.

      Happy soaping!

  8. Melissa says:

    I tried this for the first time tonight (the liquid soap version) – I think that it is done, but it is very opaque/milk colored. Also, it does not lather at all. I used olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil. I used a Sap calculator and followed the amounts exactly. I used a stick blender and it made it to trace in about 27 minutes. I’m just confused because I thought it was supposed to be translucent. Also, how do I test for pH? THanks for all of your help.

    • beiersdo says:

      In order to get a transparent liquid soap, the soap must cook for 8 to 24 hours until transparency is achieved. Water is added occasionally during the cooking to replace evaporated portions. It is a difficult process to monitor for the home soapmaker; industry has mechanization and technicians to oversee the process. Susan M Cavitch recommends making a soap base; then let it rest 24 hours to completely saponify. If the base is harsh the next day, let it cure for 1-7 days before moving to phase two: adding water to achieve the consistency you desire. The soap will not be transparent, but you know it is as pure a soap as you will get. You may have to wash out the pump dispenser occasionally, as there are no added chemicals to ensure the liquid soap won’t clump and plug the pump.
      As far as the minimal lather, olive oil in this case does not provide much lather. The recommended oils for liquid soap with good lather are: coconut oil and palm kernal oil. You want a high-lauric acid content oil to make fluffy lather. You might try increasing the amount of coconut oil and decrease the olive oil next time if you want to use olive oil. Using the sap calculator is the best tool to ensure correct amounts.
      7 is the neutral point of soap, and most home-made soap falls between 5.5 and 10. I have never tested for PH when making soap. I add a bit of water with a bit of soap and wash my hands to see how it feels. It will irritate my skin mildly if saponification is not complete. I am not familiar with where you would be able to purchase PH test strips if you wanted to check the Ph.
      Thanks for asking the questions and I hope I have given you information you can use to improve the quality of liquid soap you are making.

      • Paula Morris says:

        I have been cooking a recipe for over a week. As I heat the soap base there is a hard whited crusty top and a creamy golden bottom. What should I do? I understand that you say you should add distilled water to your base as it cooks down. Should I do this? Please help. I have been using a formula from Snowdrift farms and they are no longer in business to ask questions.

      • beiersdo says:

        Heat slowly and add water until the crusty top dissolves completely. Inadequate mixing often is the culprit or incorrect temperatures. Did you change lye brands or any other changes? Sounds like your solution separated instead of incorporating completely. When this happens, you end up with raw lye in the soap mix.

        Hope these suggestions help you!
        If anyone else has a different suggestion, please let us hear from you….

  9. Lorna says:

    how many bars of soap does the olive oil recipe make so that I know how many molds I need?

    • beiersdo says:

      I usually get 36-40, 4-5 oz bars of soap. I use rectangle cardboard box lids (like computer paper boxs) lined with contact paper and freezer paper. I think they are about 11 x 17. For this size I usually only need 1 mold. It depends on the size of your rectangle and how deep you pour. I usually have a few plastic molds nearby at the ready just in case. I think the recipe is for a 4# batch. Happy soaping!

  10. Lorna says:

    How would you now how much scented oils to add for making the soap scented?

    • beiersdo says:

      This is a matter of preference. I generally add 3-5 tsp but recently I used 15 tsp. It depends on how strong you want the scent to be. When I used 15 tsp there was some oil not incorporated when I cut the bars the next day, although by 48 hours it had been absorbed into the bars and smelled really good.

  11. Lorna says:

    I am having trouble find the lye. Can you tell me where there would be a place to purchase lye?

    • beiersdo says:

      In the United States lye is no longer sold in stores because it is used by people who manufacture illegal drugs. Purchasing lye now is done online and you have to sign a form verifying that you are using it in a legitimate fashion. I order my lye from a company that sells soap making materials called Brambleberry. I have a link on my home page to Brambleberry. If you click on the link, it will direct you to their online store. There are other companies that sell soap making supplies on line if you search. You may find one located much closer to where you live. Thanks for asking because I’m sure other people need to know where to purchase this chemical too if they are beginning soapmakers!

  12. Hannah Dwyer says:

    It was like a granulated sort of powder. It worked great!

  13. beiersdo says:

    That sounds perfect! I wish I had a Menards close to me….Thanks for the information!

    • Hannah Dwyer says:

      Maybe it’s just because I’m in Illinois but I’ve never had a problem buying lye. I’m pretty sure Lowe’s has it too?

      • beiersdo says:

        I do have a Lowe’s close by. Next trip I’ll check out the plumbing aisle. I need lye to make soap again but I hate the hassle of purchasing online. I really appreciate you sharing this information for myself and my readers.

  14. Caroline Clifford says:

    I was only able to find 16 oz of lye. Should I spring for the scale to measure out to the 18 oz, as indicated? Or could 16 oz be okay? Or do you have another suggestion to use what I have? (First time soap maker…)

    • beiersdo says:

      Yes. You will have much better results if you measure the lye exactly! I actually found one at Goodwill when I first started making soap. Now I have a digital scale that I can’t believe I lived without all those years.

  15. Vicky says:

    I FINALLY have everything I need to make your soap. This may sound like a silly question, but when you dissolve the lye into water – when using part goat’s milk and part water – do you dissolve the lye in the water and goats milk, or the water only?

    • beiersdo says:

      When I use goat milk to make soap, I use 2 parts milk and 1 part water. I dissolve the lye into the milk/water solution slowly so the mixture does not overheat. This takes a while but the result is worth the extra effort. Good luck! Let me know how the soap comes out……

      • Vicky says:

        How do you know if it’s “overheating”?

        Also, I read somewhere not to use metal containers. Is this only for the lye/milk/water mixture, or also for the oil? In other words, is it ok to heat the oil in my soup kettle, and add the lye mixture to it? The soup kettle or a plastic bucket are the only containers I have large enough for this recipe.

        I sure appreciate your advice and your quick responses!

      • beiersdo says:

        You can use metal containers but not aluminum. I have used either stainless steel or enamel ware. When the lye solution gets too hot the milk will curdle and the solution turns dark yellow. You really want the solution to stay creamy colored. I have seen it turn almost amber because I added the lye too fast. The soap was fine but the color of finished bars was brown.

      • beiersdo says:

        I mix my lye solution in a 1 gallon plastic pitcher. This makes it really easy to pour into the fats. I heat the fats in a stainless steel kettle. Before I got an industrial mixer, I used an enamelware large kettle to heat the oil. You could use the bucket to mix the lye solution and the soup kettle for the fats as long as it is not aluminum. Glass also works if you have a 2 quart measuring bowl. Best of luck.

      • Kathy says:

        Hello,
        I just wanted to throw a tip out there for dissolving lye into milk. If you freeze the liquid first in ice cube trays overnight prior to making the soap, the lye will dissolve, will not burn the milk, and melts the cubes of course. Much easier and quicker.

      • beiersdo says:

        Thank you Kathy for sharing this tip. I freeze my goat milk in a 3 cup container during the milking season, then when making soap I use this frozen block of milk when dissolving the lye. As long as I don’t in a hurry and add the lye too quickly, this works great too.

  16. Vicky says:

    Sorry, one more thing. If I were to decide to add oatmeal, how much should I add, and do I need any more (or less) oil or lye mixture? Thanks!

    • beiersdo says:

      I would try 1/4-1/2 cup of oatmeal that has been ground. It really is to your taste. Oatmeal is a great additive and really enhances the final product. It will also darken the finished product.

  17. Vicky says:

    Thanks so much for all of your help. I also found your other post about Soap Making Basics, which contains a wealth of information and is very helpful.
    I think I have all of my “tools” figured out, but I haven’t decided yet if I want to add the oatmeal. Tomorrow is the big day – I will let you know how it goes…

  18. Vicky says:

    I think I did everything according to directions, have been mixing first by hand then with a hand mixer for two hours and cannot get it to trace. Do I need to give up and dispose of it, or is there something I can do to get it to trace?

    • beiersdo says:

      Did you use extra virgin olive oil or pomace olive oil? Trace is hard to detect, and especially for the beginner…..If it looks like the solution is bonded together ( creamy and slightly thickened) with no pools of liquid, I would pour into your mold and let sit for 24-36 hours. I always cover my soap with freezer paper, a piece of cardboard, and a blanket to retain the heat and aid saponification.

      Did you use a thermometer to check the temps? Sometimes having the solutions too cool will cause problems.

      You do not need to pitch the batch, no matter what! Even if it has not saponified properly (has pools of lye) wait for a few days and then shred the soap into a kettle over low to med-low heat. Add water to aid the melting process. Cook until you see it is well blended and not separating. Then pour into molds as before and proceed.

      • Vicky says:

        Thanks for your quick response. There are no pools of lye in the mixture, it is very creamy. I am using something called just “Pure Olive Oil”. I did measure temps, both the oil and the lye were at approx. 105 when I started combining. Maybe I should have let the lye mixture cool more? I will do as you suggest, and go ahead and place in the molds and see what happens.

      • beiersdo says:

        Yes go ahead and mold. Next time let the solutions cool to around 80 degrees before mixing. That will reduce your stir time to about 20 minutes. So glad you hung in there!!! You will be glad you did.

  19. Vicky says:

    I should add that my mixture is a beautiful gold color, looks very creamy, and has thickened some, but not to trace.

  20. Vicky says:

    Finally, today, my soap is hard enough to remove from molds and cut into bars. It took longer than I expected, but am so glad that it’s ready to cure! It looks so good I wish I didn’t have to wait a month to use it – but of course I understand why I do. Thank you for hanging in there with me!

    • beiersdo says:

      I am so happy for you! I was glad to help you through the process and I know you will enjoy using the soap. I generally wait 4 weeks, even though it is hard to….the bars harden and loose excess moisture. Thanks for including me in your journey!

  21. Penny Teoh says:

    i am from UK, can i know if the measurement metrics, ounce is in UK or US ounce. Can you help to convert that to grams? As my weighing machine is UK ounce.

    • beiersdo says:

      Thank you for checking out the website Penny. The measurements I list are US.
      The oil and water/milk are fluid measures. The oil converts to 4.7 liters or 4535.9 grams. The water/mild converts to 1.18 liters or 1133.9 grams. The lye is a dry measure and converts to 510 grams.

      Hope these figures help you.

  22. Bettina says:

    Hello there ! I would like to make my own soaps for the first time and I find your explanations to be great for a begginer like myself. I have a question, If I would like to make my soaps with both Olive oil and Coconut oil ? Would it be the same process? and how much olive oil and how much coconut oil would you use to follow this same recipe? and is there any reason why you would not use coconut oil? Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • beiersdo says:

      Nice to “meet” you Bettina! The joy of soap making is that it is an artistic venture. Yes you may use coconut oil or a selection of other oils in combination with nutritive oils like avocado, almond, etc to create a lavish gentle soap. If you look in the May 2011 archive of my previous blogs, you will find a recipe using olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil. The process is the same……I raise goats and I use goat milk to replace some of the water called for in the recipe, so you can see you can have some creative license. A quick keyword search of my previous blogs is “economical soap.” Thank you for asking your questions and if you have any more, please let me know. One tip; for a quicker trace (when using olive oil as an ingredient) cool the lye and oils to 85 degrees before combining. This will reduce the mixing time to 15-25 minutes instead of an 40-60 minutes. Wish you the best of luck as you begin the process of creating your own soap!

  23. Janie says:

    I make my homemade soap from lye I make from ashes.A hot process recipe and I have to add salt at trace to make the soap harden.I use fat from hogs we raise and deer we hunt.No cost except for the salt.

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